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Lighten Up 4 January 2002 Edition
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Let's kick off the new year with more of the oddest material on the Web.

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An Online Music (Honesty) Box?
If you're like me, you probably caught at least a few minutes of a TV program which pleaded the case against music piracy on TV2 over the holiday break.

A range of local recording artists from Dave Dobbin to Renee from Tadpole told us that if we copied CDs or downloaded stuff from the Net then we were bad people. Renee even went so far as to say that she "despised" anyone who did this -- oooooh!

However, you've got to have some sympathy for these struggling singers, songwriters and bands. The way the recording industry has structured itself seems to ensure that the artists end up right at the end of the money-chain. They only get paid after all the others have taken their fairly large share -- which means that if an album doesn't sell too well, they might even end up out of pocket.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Record Companies... - james
  • Online Music Honesty Box... - Brent
  • Paying Artists directly... - Simon

    From Yesterday

  • line rentals increase... - Alan.
  • The Phone Co... - Robert
  • Have Your Say

    Then we have retailers such as Dick Smith with TV ads that actually promoted the download music from the Net and burning to your own CDRs. I note that they've changed their pitch a little now -- did the recording industry have a word I wonder?

    Now I think we have to treat local musicians somewhat differently to the mega-stars such as Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, etc. Most of our artists are far from "rich" -- and have to work damned hard for their meagre earnings -- in fact for the vast majority, other forms of income (like a day-job) are an essential part of life.

    Given that they're a deserving bunch who, some would allege, are being roundly stiffed by the recording industry, how can those who trade music files and illegally duplicate music CDs help out?

    Well why doesn't someone set up a website which will accept donations of (say) $5 per CD burnt or swapped over the Net?

    That $5 (less a small handling fee to pay for the site and administration) could be then sent directly to the artist as compensation for the potential loss of a CD sale.

    The service would obviously have to ensure the anonymity of the payer (because you can guarantee that the recording industry would spit tacks over this one) but it could issue a unique identifier code to all those who donate so that (if required) they could later prove that they'd paid the artist for their work.

    I actually think that this could become a viable second-tier distribution model for local music.

    If enough of those who currently pirate music were to go semi-honest and pay the token amount, local artists would soon be attracted to releasing tracks and albums directly to such a site rather than through established labels.

    Local music would become much cheaper -- but the recording artists would end up earning a whole lot more money at the same time. The only losers would be the whining recording industry.

    Now I know that many ventures have been set up to sell music direct -- but they've lacked that initial kick-off that the proposed honesty system would produce. Such online music outlets have in the past tended to carry only obscure bands whose music doesn't have the same draw as well recognised names. By encouraging people who have pirated popular music to donate that money to the artists it might just produce the missing kick-start.

    What do YOU think?

    Would you pay $5 or even $7 for a CD if you knew that all but a dollar or so of that money was going directly into the pockets of the artist?

    Would you be prepared to make such an "honesty payment" for music you'd received on a CDR or downloaded from the Net?

    Have your say (remember to select For Publication if you want to see your comments on this page).

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